Kipling Speak

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!


Rudyard Kipling

Early Winter Snow on the Farm

Normally when we have a snow it is of short duration and is not much of a big deal. Of course, there are those times when the snow comes with a heavy layer of ice that means we will be without electricity for days. Last Sunday we had a bit of ice, a little sleet then perhaps six inches of powder snow. Then we dropped into a deep freeze and for days with nights in the mid-teens and days not above freezing. The result was a snow that has lasted six days. Last night it was only 36 degrees so I expect it will all be gone soon.

This was not as deep as the 15 inches we had last February, but the cabins still looked so peaceful across the lake in a snow setting.

IMG_0239

The cats are sunning themselves in the loft door entrance of the old barn.

IMG_0231

The calf with the cow in the background had been born a few hours before in the coldest part of the night.


IMG_0199

Our zebras, Salt and Pepper, were unsure of what to make of a snow experience.

IMG_0212

We had our last calf of the fall calving season born on a cold morning. Ginger is checking him out.

IMG_0206

The blackberry and blueberry bushes are all covered in ice and snow. This does not affect them.In fact, we are so dry that they need the moisture.

IMG_0273IMG_0269

Our farm house always looks good, but in a snow it is magical.

IMG_0232

Farm to Fork Cooking: 2011 Class Schedule

The 2011 Class Schedule
 
January 15, 2011
Kicking Off the New Year with Great Starters
$75
 
Hoisin beef and scallion rolls
Stuffed endive leaves and celery with homemade cream cheese and spices
Chicken brochettes with spicy peanut sauce
Spicy hummus with pine nuts and homemade pita chips
Warm black bean and chipotle dip with homemade tortilla chips
Salmon canapes on black pepper potato chips
Coconut tartlets 
 
February 5, 2011
Super Bowl Favorites
$75
 
Chili lime peanuts
Spicy Sriracha chicken wings
Lump crab salsa with homemade potato chips
Mediterranean tomato olive and walnut salad
Pork and purple hull peas with toasted cornmeal cornbread sticks
Apple bread and butter pudding with whiskey caramel sauce
 
March 5, 2011
Mardi Gras Feast
$75
 
Lump crab meat and brie soup
Commander's egg Benedict with special sauce and homemade triple meat sausage
Imperial crawfish
Cajun Caesar salad
Creamy Pralines
 
April 9, 2011
Scarborough Fare... Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and thyme
Cooking with Herbs
$75
 
Scarlet Nantes carrot soup with mint
Rosemary sage, thyme, garlic flan with crispy shallots with arugula and radicchio salad
Grilled scallops with salsa Verde
Herb crusted chicken Cordon Bleu with basil pesto and hazelnuts
Mashed potatoes with toasted coriander and roasted garlic
Lemon verbena ice cream
 
May 14, 2011
Strawberry Fields Forever
Featuring East Texas Strawberries
$75
 
Fresh strawberry lemonade
Strawberry avocado garnaches with homemade queso fresco
Strawberry shrimp ceviche
Grilled duck with strawberry fig sauce
Flaming Grand Marnier strawberries over lemon ricotta crepes
Strawberry, blackberry balsamic ice cream
 
June 11, 2011
Black and Blue Month with Greer Farm Fresh Berries
$75
 
Scallops with blackberry chipotle sauce
Venison with juniper, blueberries and thyme
Brie, blackberry and basil Panini (sandwich)
Blueberry and blackberry honey sabayon
Double crusted blackberry pie
Blueberry pie dusted with confectionary sugar
 
July 9, 2011
Luscious Summer Vegetables and Fruits
$75
 
Grilled watermelon salad
Crabmeat stuffed cherry tomatoes
Homemade wheat pita bread used to dip Beat hummus, and
Smoky eggplant and pepper spread
Southwest zucchini squash and beef casserole
Sweet tomato tart served with creme fraiche 
 
July 23, 2011
Hands-On Jam making
$75
 
Preparing homemade jam using fresh fruit: peaches, blueberries and blackberries
Includes taking home a jar of each of the jams your make
 
 
August 13, 2011
Backyard Grilling
$75
 
Heirloom tomato and grilled corn salad with purple basil vinaigrette
Grilled okra with Spanish paprika
Yellow corn flatbread (piadina)
Tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella piadina
Figs and ham piadina with ricotta cheese
Banana split on the grill with homemade coconut ice cream and hibiscus sauce
 
September 17, 2011
Breakfast with a Twist
$75
 
Crispy bacon with hash brown quesadillas
Huevos Rancheros with three pepper tomato chili sauce
Spelt blueberry pancakes with fig syrup and lemon honey butter
Macadamia nut French toast with candied bacon
Crispy gluten free waffles with salted caramel sauce
Whole wheat blueberry muffins with lemon cream cheese filling
 
October 8, 2011
Greens and Grain
$75
 
Whole wheat bread
Roasted red peppers stuffed with kale and forbidden black rice
Heirloom squash farro risotto
Rainbow chard and radicchio and nut saute
Quinoa salad with baby spinach and Moroccan spice lemon dressing
Zesty wheat berry black bean chili with spicy homemade whole grain crackers
 
October 22, 2011
Cooking the Low Carb Smart Way
$75
 
Winter salad with roasted squash and pomegranate vinaigrette
Cauliflower popcorn
Curried chicken salad with homemade creme fraiche
No noodle zucchini lasagna
Wild mushroom quiche with pecan nut pie crust
Pumpkin mousse
 
November 5, 2011
Grass Fed Beer, Pastured Pork, Free Range Chicken and Spring Grass Fed Lamb
$90
 
Fall Greens with blue cheese and pastured pork bacon and pumpkin seed brittle
Carne Asada (roasted beef) with pickled onions and habanero tomato salsa
Grilled citrus free range chicken under a brick
Jalapeno pastured pork roast
Lamb chops with fresh mint pesto
Lavender Creme Brulee with free range eggs
 
November 12, 2011
Healthy Holiday Appetizers
$75
 
Fresh organic spinach and artichoke dip with homemade flatbread
Zucchini and goat cheese pinwheels
Tomato caprese bites
Sweet potato and black bean empanades
Endive stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts
Fresh mushrooms stuffed with sundried tomatoes and organic spinach
Coconut pecan meringues
 
The Fine Print
 
Classes are by reservation only and must be paid for in advance.  Call 903-645-3232 for availability and/or to make a reservation using a credit card.  Space is filled on a first come - first served basis.  Participants should be 16 or older.  If your preferred class is full, we will place you on a waiting list.
 
Cancellation Policy
 
Due to the financial impact of cancellations at the last minute, our cancellation policy is strictly followed.  There are no exceptions regardless of the circumstances or nature of an emergency situation.  14 day advance notice is required for any cancellation. The class fee is non-refundable, but we will issue a credit toward a future class or your enrollment transferred to another person. 
 
If cancellation is within 14 days of the class date, forfeiture of the fee will result unless we can re-book your reservation.  If we are able to re-book your reservation, you can utilize your fee as a credit toward a future class.
 
We reserve the right to cancel any class at any time.  Classes may be cancelled due to insufficient participation, illness of the instructor or inclement weather.  In such instance you can receive a full refund or offered a credit toward another class at your option.
 
All classes are at the Farm House and start at 11:00 AM
Gift certificates available
Reservations or Additional Information
903-645-3232

Darkness in the East (Texas)

I have read the Texas Observer for 40 years and enjoy their twist on life, news, literature and politics. This piece really captured the area of Texas I call home. For better or worse it does not miss the mark too far, but many would dispute this to their grave. Yes, there are a lot of good people in East Texas.... and then there are “the others”.

Darkness in the East
by Joe Lansdale

Published on: Friday, October 08, 2010
270cd5a320fef4968b2f940745571c1c_L
photo by Erica Nix
Joe Lansdale in his natural habitat, an alley in Nacogdoches

NOIR IS A FRENCH WORD MEANING DARK. It’s used to identify a certain type of grim fiction or film. Don’t let the French name fool you. There’s plenty of noir right here in East Texas, though it’s mixed with Southern Gothic and Western and all manner of stuff; it’s a gumbo boiled in hell. I know. I’m from East Texas. I’ve seen it. I’ve written about it. Weird as some of it is, fictionalized as the work is, it comes from a wellspring of true events you just can’t make up.
Let’s clear up one thing. There are plenty of good people in East Texas (saw one yesterday), but if you’re a writer of crime fiction, which I am at least some of the time, you’re not looking for good people. You’re looking for weirdos, criminals, malcontents and the just plain stupid. That’s your meat if you write crime.
In spite of the word, not all of the fiction or films associated with this genre are completely dark. Noir wears many hats, some even with bright feathers in them. Sometimes noir can laugh, which is where I come in. It’s where East Texas comes in. You can’t point at noir and call it one thing, but it usually has some of these elements: existentialist attitude, cynical and desperate characters, wise-ass talk, rain and shadows, a lightning bolt and shadowed blinds, sweaty sheets and cigarette smoke, whisky breath and dark street corners where shots are fired and a body is found, and long black cars squealing tires as they race around poorly lit corners.
For me as a writer, noir takes place in the backwoods and slick, brick streets and red clay roads and sandy hills of East Texas. My noir is about Baptist preachers claiming with lilting poetry to be called by the Lord to preach The Word, but who have intentions as false as a stuffed sock in rock star’s pants; pretty soon they’re gone with the congregation’s money and three deacon’s wives are knocked up. My noir is about the deep backwoods and small-town girls with inflated dreams and big blonde hair and the kind of oozing sex appeal that would make a good family man set fire to the wife’s cat and use it as a torch to burn down his house—with his wife in it.
You got your slicked-backed-shiny-haired used car salesman with more better deals and a plan to burn his business for the insurance money. You got your muscle-armed, pot-bellied hick with a toothpick and a John Deere gimme cap, forever dressed in hunting boots, camouflage pants and a wife-beater T-shirt—even if his destination is just the barber shop or the barbecue joint. He’s the kind of guy who likes to get drunk every night and drive home weaving. He’s the kind of guy whose last words are to his best buddy in the passenger seat—“Hey, hold my beer and watch this”—and who then proceeds to unzip his pants and attempt to drive his truck with his manly appendage.
You got this same kind of guy at the Wednesday prayer meeting, wearing a conceal-carry pistol tucked under his worn-out high-school letter jacket in case the Muslims attack or there’s an unexpected run on grape juice and tasteless wafers by liberal Democrats. He’s the kind of guy who carries a pack of condoms in his front pocket to signify high hopes for the big-breasted, blonde church organist with an orthodontist’s grin and an ass like two volley balls banging together in a croaker sack. If that don’t happen, well hell, on his way home he’s got a spotlight and a rifle in the trunk for popping blinded rabbits. In fact, in that trunk he’s got so many guns that his guns own guns, and who knows where that kind of firepower might lead? For example, there are those guys down at the job who done him wrong, the ex-wife that got the kids, the dog that digs in his yard, and all those folks who want the new health care program so they can pull the plug on grandma. They could all get a taste of his ammunition if the mood strikes him right.
You got the Aryan Nations with their pale skins covered in jailhouse tattoos, crosses and swastikas, a heart with Mama written across it on a crawling snake, their necks so covered in tattoo print they look like they fell asleep on a damp newspaper, talking authoritatively with tears in their eyes about the Bible they’ve never read, cussing science and man-made books.
Then you got the Dixie flag, Southern heritage guys talking about how fine it would be had the South won the war, worrying that they’re losing their white heritage, which when you get right down to it is most likely great-grandpa’s weed-infested grave, a mayonnaise sandwich on white bread, a MoonPie, a bag of pork skins, a big Bud Light and a Jim Beam chaser. Here in East Texas, we got rampaging horse-shooters, wife-beaters, child abusers, murderers, gangs (yeah, really), scripture-quoting psychopaths and enough crystal meth that if some cooker gets drunk and drops a match, he could blow us all the way to Mars.
The people I write about lurk in small East Texas towns, living in same-alike houses, on cleared clay lots with little anemic bushes in their yards, yards that often sport mossy gnomes and colorful wooden frames painted up like bent-over grannies. In the backyard, the flowers may even be holding down that missing relative not seen since 1985, or the freezer might contain a human head next to a plastic bag of hotdogs.
Let’s come back to this, as it might save me from a lynching. Yes, East Texas is full of good people. Some of them might even be Christians. Some might be used car salesmen and back-road runners wearing camouflage with a toothpick in their mouth. They might be public servants so paranoid they want college students to be armed in the case of  a nut going wild; students could kill the nut and each other in a crossfire, but these are otherwise good people with the best of intentions. Not everyone is out to do bad. Some have done well with their GEDs, and they have a nice library—consisting primarily of Guns and Ammo magazines, and others where naked women wear only staples. Seriously, I even know one person who has been to clown college—and graduated. These are my peeps, man.
 
SOMETIMES YOU LOOK AT NOIR and realize it’s real, not just a story or a film. Some of it is so like a sucking gunshot wound that, to keep from hanging yourself from a shower rod, you have to laugh at it, make fun of it. You got to do what firefighters and policemen do—and when I speak of the latter I don’t mean senselessly beating a suspect with three feet of water hose and a telephone book. I mean laugh at the terrible things, because laughter is the only antidote. It’s the 800-pound gorilla that holds the dark at bay.
My noir may not be your noir, but nonetheless, it is noir, and though it’s not all I write, it’s a lot of what I write. It often informs work of mine that I meant to be absolutely as far away from noir as I’d like to be from the Tea Party. East Texas has its own kind of dark side that comes deep-fried, baptized, and sanctified with a side of hollow points and racial epithets. That’s my beat, here in the shadows and sticky heat, nestled up tight as a hungry chigger in a fat man’s armpit.
When you write crime, you’re not looking at the good that exists. You’re thinking about and looking at the bad, at the criminals, at the lowlifes and how they affect those who just want to do their part—people who just want to go to their jobs, raise their families, and maybe retire with a lakefront view and a good supply of adult diapers, with no one cooking crystal meth next door or kicking in the door to take their plasma television or sell their crippled dog to medical research.
Those bad folks are out there, like the flu. Waiting. They are outnumbered by the good, but all it takes is one bad sucker to ruin your day. We all know that therein lies the appeal of the noir tale, the books of mystery and suspense, crime and sacrifice, trips to the Dairy Queen gone horribly wrong. Stories like that are a way to flirt with the dark without having to actually date and marry it.
We know bad can happen, but mostly we like to think we’re pretty safe in our bedrooms at night with books in our hands. We can turn the pages and see what happens, or we can put it down, turn off the light, and go to sleep. On some level, it’s like an inoculation against disaster, pre-coping with things that might happen and probably never will, a metaphorical way of dealing with the Big D. And I don’t mean Dallas.
That part will happen. Be it by crime, poorly chewed steak lodged in the windpipe, car wreck, or lying in an old folks’ home wired up like a spaceman watching shadows move across the wall. Noir is our way of saying howdy to the dark side without going there to live.
At least not yet.
Hear Joe Lansdale read a short story and browse his website.
Joe R. Lansdale lives and writes in Nacogdoches. His latest novel is Vanilla Ride.

Happy New Year

No matter what the season, our family farm is a place to relax and forget about the outside world for a few days. Fish, swim, boat, hike, bicycle, sit by a camp fire, read a book, enjoy a nice glass of wine or just do nothing but sit in a swing. As we start the New Year, and a new decade, we wish to remind you of how close you are to this special place we call our home. Make The Greer Farm your home away from home too.

IMG_0192

IMG_0058_2

IMG_0039

IMG_0119